l’idole d’un peuple

Rocketry: August 4 was a Thursday in 1921, and the weather was fine: the morning edition of Montreal’s La Patrie promised that, despite some rain in Alberta and Saskatchewan, “il fait généralement beau et modérément chaud par tout le Dominion.” The day’s headlines brought tidings from Dublin, where Éamon de Valera was taking steps to declare himself President of the Republic. In London, the seventh anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany was noted but — for the first time since 1918 — not observed with any ceremony. From Liverpool came news that Lord Byng of Vimy and Lady Byng were embarking for Canada so that he could take up his duties as the new governor-general. (She, of course, would spend some of her time in Canada becoming a hockey fan while wishing that the game might conduct itself in a more gentlemanly way.)

Not noted in La Patrie’s columns that day in 1921: the birth of a baby in Montreal’s east end, a first son for a young carpenter named Onésime Richard and his wife, Alice. Joseph Henri Maurice they’d call their boy, which served him for his early years, until the world saw him on skates, and decided it preferred Rocket. (Photo: National Film Board of Canada / Library and Archives Canada / e003525243)